Iowa downed Illinois and Northwestern handily in wrestling meets this weekend to move to 10-0 on the season, but that’s hardly the story from this weekend.
Spencer Lee and Kaleb Young did not wrestle on Saturday against top-ranked Sebastian Rivera and third-ranked Ryan Deakin, respectively. Lee did not weigh in, while Young did but sat on the bench as Jeren Glosser lost to Deakin.
And the question, of course, is why.
“The best decision for them,” Brands told Cody Goodwin of the Des Moines Register. “It was in the plans. It’s something that, as coaches, we’re talking all the time about with these dual meets.
“This is an important time of the year to build and create momentum and put yourself in the best possible position for rankings and those types of things. But it’s also — especially with our wrestling room depth, we have a luxury that maybe some teams don’t have as much.
“It’s very, very important that we do the right thing for our individuals.”
Brands also said it was a coaches decision. There’s a thousand different reasons as to why this happened, but to some it’s looked like Iowa was trying to duck Northwestern’s two best wrestlers.
But then there’s also this quote from a Cedar Rapids Gazette story that wasn’t included in the DMR piece:
“This is an important time of year to build and get momentum and to put yourself in the best possible place for rankings and those types of things, but it’s also, especially with our wrestling room depth,” Brands said. “We have a luxury that maybe some teams don’t have as much and it’s very, very important that we do the right thing for our individuals.”
So, reading between the lines, Iowa basically didn’t want it’s wrestlers to have a loss to guys they might be fighting for seeds with at the Big Ten tournament and, later, the NCAAs. It’s thinly veiled gamesmanship that might put Lee and Young in a slightly different position down the road — though there’s absolutely no way to know what’s going to happen.
Outside of the whole idea of manipulating the seeding, there’s another issue that has been brought up as well. Is this good at all for the sport?
You want good matches at a wrestling dual. Yes, of course, the most exciting stuff usually happens at tournaments, but duals are important. In order to continue to build the sport, your regular season events need to have some excitement.
And not having two of your wrestlers go in top-five matchups — one of those a 1 vs. 2 — is short-term thinking.
#4 IOWA 31, #20 Illinois 8
125 — #2 Spencer Lee (IA) pinned #15 Travis Piotrowski (ILL), 6:06; 6-0
133 — Paul Glynn (IA) dec. #17 Dylan Duncan (ILL), 3-1; 9-0
141 — #4 Mike Carr (ILL) dec. #15 Max Murin (IA), 6-3; 9-3
149 — #13 Pat Lugo (IA) major dec. Mousa Jodeh (ILL), 14-4; 13-3
157 — #12 Eric Barone (ILL) dec. #5 Kaleb Young (IA), 3-1; 13-5*
165 — #2 Alex Marinelli (IA) winner by stalling disqualification Joey Gunther (ILL), 9-3 (DQ); 19-5
174 — Keegan Shaw (IA) dec. Nick Gasbarro (ILL), 6-2; 22-5
184 — #2 Emery Parker (ILL) dec. #13 Cash Wilcke (IA), 4-1; 22-8
197 — #5 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. Andre Lee (ILL), 5-1; 25-8
285 — #3 Sam Stoll (IA) pinned Deuce Rachal (ILL), 4:37; 31-8
*Illinois was deducted one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct after 157
#4 IOWA 32, Northwestern 7
125 — #1 Sebastian Rivera (N) major dec. Perez Perez (IA), 11-1; 0-4
133 — #4 Austin DeSanto (IA) major dec. Colin Valdiviez (N), 18-8; 4-4
141 — #15 Max Murin (IA) dec. Alec McKenna (N), 4-0; 7-4
149 — #13 Pat Lugo (IA) dec. Yahya Thomas (N), 2-1 SV1; 10-4
157 — #3 Ryan Deakin (N) dec. Jeren Glosser (IA), 6-1; 10-7
165 — #2 Alex Marinelli (IA) major dec. Tyler Morland (N), 12-4; 14-7
174 — Keegan Shaw (IA) dec. Johnny Sebastian (N), 11-6; 17-7
184 — #13 Cash Wilcke (IA) pinned Brendan Devine (N), 1:20; 23-7.
197 — #5 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. Zach Chakonis (N), 4-2; 26-7
285 — #3 Sam Stoll (IA) won by injury default #15 Conan Jennings (N), 32-7